Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Day

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball.

(I know, the Red Sox and Athletics played two "regular season" games in Japan earlier this week. Those games were played before the Spring Training season was even over and they were played at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time. I know they count, but to me they don't. Sorry.)

Tonight my Atlanta Braves will help the Washington Nationals christen their brand new ball park. I'm happy for the Nationals. I hope the Braves break in the new stadium by shellacking the hosts.

The first day of the baseball season is always an exciting day for me. It is also a day with theological undertones.

First, everybody starts off with a clean slate. Last year's records and last decade's records don't matter. It puts me in mind of forgiveness.

Second, it is the beginning of a long haul. The Major League Baseball regular season lasts for 162 games. It really is an endurance test and those who endure to the end will be saved.

Third, teams start off with varying levels of giftedness. Some teams have better players than others. Some players are better because they work harder. But other players are just more naturally gifted. There's a mystery to that, just as there is with the "spiritual gifts" we talk about in church. The best players are those who work the hardest to develop the best natural gifts.

Fourth, it's all about the team. I saw many a terrible Braves team that had great individual players on it. But I have seen teams with less talent that came together, played as a team, developed great chemistry, and performed admirably. The strongest churches are like that.

Finally, the goal of a World Series championship is dancing before every team's eyes. It's out there somewhere beyond the horizon. It is what draws and drives every team forward. They're looking for a trophy. We're looking for a city. And on Opening Day, it's easy to believe.

Amen, and play ball!

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